Communities and Midwives Should Collaborate To Reduce Unintended Pregnancies and Unsafe Abortions – Dr Magure

Dr Tsitsi Magure

PARIRENYATWA Group of Hospitals Clinical Director, Dr Tsitsi Magure has called for increased partnership between women pressure groups, communities and midwives amidst indications of increased admissions of young teenage girls into health facilities as a result of teenage pregnancies and post labor or abortion related complications.

By Michael Gwarisa

The call also comes at a time the country is debating the adoption of the Age of Consent which seeks to reduce age restrictions towards accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (SRH) including contraceptives to 12 years, inorder to reduce Early Unintended Pregnancies (EUPs), reduce the high unsafe abortions rate amongst a host of other issues.

Speaking at a community women and Midwives interactive netball and dialogue activity which was hosted by the Women’s Action Group (WAG) and the Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives (ZICOM) with support from Amplify Change, Dr Magure said the country continues to record high cases of maternal deaths and pregnancy related complications among young girls despite efforts by various organisations to have this challenge addressed.

In Zimbabwe, we are still experiencing high rates of women and girls who die from pregnancy related complications due to various reasons. Some of the complications can be prevented while some are beyond prevention. We should continue talking about these issues and communities should come to us whenever they encounter any challenges. I am sure you are aware of the Age of Consent petition that is currently being discussed which is also trying to push for access to family planning and contraceptive services amongst young people.

“We are seeing these problems whereby young girls are getting admitted after falling pregnant and would have tried to abort the pregnancies while some would have gone to backyard home delivery services for help and they develop infections or other complications. The Age of consent petition came trying to address that issue, I know it is very controversial because most people think it’s a way of promoting immorality and early sexual indulgence by minors.

Midwives and Community Champions from the Women Action Group (WAG) go toe to toe in a Netball Match at Parirenyatwa Hospital Pitch

“The truth is we are witnessing these challenges already and young girls are dying as a result of these complications. If you have other recommendations that you have to ensure young girls don’t fall pregnant please bring them forward so that we help the current situation. Let’s work together as communities and midwives to ensure this problem is addressed and we do not continue having early and unintended pregnancies,” said Dr Magure.

She added that collaboration between communities and midwives was one way the issue of early and unintended pregnancies and other related issues could be addressed as it also helps root out illegal practices such as backyard deliveries and backyard abortions which could endanger the lives of young girls and women.

“Prevention of maternal deaths and complications starts at the family planning stage. Once women access family planning services, it will be easy for us as a nation to also prevent and manage health issues properly.  In Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) offers family planning services at a subsidized rate with the aim of ensuring that women fall pregnant by choice and not by mistake.

“This initiative whereby women organisations, midwives and women have come together to dialogue is a step in the right direction. In the developed world, this is actually a practice that has been adopted whereby in each and every organisation like the confederation of midwives or obstetricians, there should be community members who represent the community voice and share experiences from a community perspective.”

Meanwhile, ZICOM and WAG have identified the need to strengthen partnerships between women and midwives for the successful implementation of maternity health care and the whole sexual reproductive health services and rights. Midwives are predominantly female professionals who provide women centred and respectful sexual reproductive health services.

The interactive dialogue which was facilitated by WAG after the netball games was a good platform for women to share their experiences, good practices and challenges in accessing maternal healthcare and midwives were there to provide answers. Harmonious, confidential, open and trusting relationships can achieve so much for women who have to deal with personal and sensitive matters such as childbirth, gender-based violence, contraception and abortion.

ZICOM president Emmanuel Mahlangu said there was need to prioritize Midwifery as it was an essential and unique department in every healthcare service delivery system.

“As midwives I can say we have passed through a very trying moment. What has been happening in the past few months was not easy for both the pregnant mothers and us the midwives. Our job as midwives is to ensure that mothers deliver their babies safely and we do not take pleasure in seeing mothers losing their new born babies or having still births.

“On behalf of midwives, we are very sorry, we hope and wish the past can be erased to ensure we start afresh. What we notice is that midwives work under various institutions. There are council midwives and also midwives who work in government health institutions and those in private hospitals. The message that we are relaying to all these institutions is that they should enable midwifery to be done,and meet whatever requirements that enable quality and comprehensive maternal healthcare,” said Manhlangu.

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